Alabama Child Car Seat Laws By Age, Weight & Height

Car Seat

In 1975, prior to the enactment of federal and Alabama child safety seat laws, nearly 1,400 children died in motor vehicle crashes and child restraint use was an abysmal 29% during that time.

It took 25 years to see noticeable drops in annual car-accident-related child fatalities. The reason? By 2000, car seat laws got stricter, pressuring parents to place their kids in the back seat. Now, fewer than 700 child deaths occur each year and an estimated 65% of children are restrained properly.

The importance of restraining your child in an approved and appropriate car seat or booster seat cannot be understated. But each state has its own children safety seat laws, which may confuse new and already-confused parents. Let’s clear those clouds of confusion. Here are the weight, height, and age requirements for car seats in Alabama.

Car Seat Laws: Age

Birth to 1 Year

In Alabama, infants through age 1 must be restrained in the back seat and in an appropriate infant safety seat or rear-facing convertible car seat.

1 to 5 Years

Children between the age of 1 and 5 must sit in the back seat and be restrained in a forward-facing convertible car seat.

5 to 6 Years

Children between 5 and 6 years of age must be in the back seat but can begin sitting in a booster seat.

The NHTSA suggests using a belt-positioning booster seat, with or without a high back and headrest, for children between 4 and 8 years old.

6 to 15 Years

Standard car seatbelts may be used once children reach the age of 6. They must remain in the back seat until the age of 15.

The NHTSA recommends waiting until children are at least 8 years of age before using a shoulder/lap seat belt.

Car Seat Laws: Weight

Up to 20 Pounds

Children weighing less than 20 pounds can be fastened in an infant safety seat or rear-facing convertible seat and in the back of a vehicle.

20 to 40 Pounds

Between 20 and 40 pounds, kids can be placed in a forward-facing car seat in the rear seat.

Over 40 Pounds

Booster seats can be used until the child is 6 years of age, at which point they can transition to a seatbelt. They must remain in the rear seat of the vehicle until the age of 15.

Car Seat Laws: Height

The state of Alabama does not have any height-based child safety seat laws. However, national guidelines recommend waiting until a child is at least 4′ 9″ (57″) before placing them in a booster seat or seatbelt.

Additional Alabama Car Seat Law Information

Fines

If these laws are violated, parents and guardians may be fined up to $25, of which $15 will be used to help low-income families purchase an adequate child passenger restraint system.

Points

On a first offense, drivers violating this law will accrue one point on their record. On each subsequent violation, 2 points will be added.

Vehicle Types

These child car seat laws apply to the following vehicles: passenger cars, pickup trucks, minivans, SUVs, crossovers, and any van with 10 or fewer seats. Laws do not apply to other vehicles meant to transport large groups, such as buses and passenger vans, or taxis/ride-share vehicles.

Although incredibly dangerous, there are no Alabama laws in place that restrict children from riding on a motorcycle as a passenger. We do not condone operating a motorcycle, scooter, or any similar vehicle with a child passenger.

Car Seat Expirations

Although there are no laws to cover child car seat expiration dates, state law enforcement and first-responder experts do not recommend purchasing or using old car seats.

“The UV rays from the sun can weaken plastic. It’s just like if you have something plastic that’s sitting in your attic for a long time and it gets brittle and can break. It won’t be able to flex like a new car seat could if that plastic was new.”

Zac Tanner, Madison Fire and Rescue

In-Vehicle Safety

All vehicles must now be manufactured with standard rearview camera systems; these laws do not apply to older models on the road.

Modern vehicles have numerous built-in safety features and systems to reduce the risk of passenger injury or death. Here are a few pieces of Subaru technology that serve to protect children:

  • High-tensile steel frame
  • Advanced airbag system
  • Collapsible drivetrain
  • Blind-Spot Detection
  • Lane Change Assist
  • Subaru STARLINK
  • DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System (first of its kind)
  • EyeSight Driver Assist Technology (Pre-Collision Throttle Management, Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control)

Nearly every 2019 Subaru model earned a spot on the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ list, including the Crosstrek, Impreza, WRX, Legacy, Outback, Forester, and Ascent. Subaru’s commitment to safety is clear. Visit our Birmingham Subaru dealership at 1301 5th Ave North to test drive any of these safe cars or SUVs—and bring your child and car seat along! We serve all areas around Birmingham, including Hoover and Tuscaloosa. Call us at (205) 588-6281 for more details.

Sources:

alea.gov/dps/highway-patrol/child-restraints-law

iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/children

subaru.com/safety